Employment e-Brief – Keane v Investigo

Thursday 11th February 2010

This is an interesting case which strikes a blow for employers against serial litigants who take advantage of discrimination laws in order to make a profit from companies who are unwilling or unable to face the risks and costs associated with Employment Tribunal claims.

Ms Keane, an accountant in her fifties, made in excess of 20 applications for jobs for which she was clearly overqualified. The job advertisements were for recently qualified accountants involving responsibilities for someone of limited experience. Upon not being invited for an interview, she lodged age discrimination questionnaires and subsequently age discrimination claims at the Employment Tribunal, claiming that the adverts discriminated against her on the grounds of her age by indicating they wanted someone junior, and therefore younger. At an Employment Tribunal hearing dealing with some of Ms Keane’s claims, the Tribunal found that there was no act that would constitute age discrimination and therefore the claims failed. Interestingly, however, they went on to find that in order for a Claimant to suffer a detriment or disadvantage as a result of a discriminatory act, any application for a job must be genuine. The Tribunal made a finding that Ms Keane didn’t actually want the jobs she applied for in the first place, and that her applications were not genuine. Thus no detriment or disadvantage had been suffered and this was an additional reason why the claim should fail.

It would seem to be common sense that if an applicant for a position is not genuinely interested in securing the employment then they cannot be said to have suffered a detriment or disadvantage as a result of the employer not offering that employment. This may prove to be a very useful case for employers facing claims from serial litigants, particularly in relation to recruitment. It also sends a clear message to claimants who have previously used the system as a gravy train that their claims may not be such plain sailing after all.

If you have any questions or queries please contact a member of the employment department.